These past few weeks, more and more practices and clinics have started re-opening their doors to patients. But things aren’t exactly back to normal, given the required social distancing requirements. COVID-19 is still impacting the health of our communities and how businesses can operate – including dermatology practices.
Also these past few weeks, we’ve discussed some things you can do to review your strategic plan as you prepare to open. Now that you may have re-opened your practice or are planning to soon, let’s continue that discussion and talk about some best practices you can take as we continue to live with COVID-19, including social distancing.
To begin with, using proper social distancing is a big part of practicing right now. With COVID-19 still spreading, it’s important to balance the number of patients entering your practice and put the right protective measures in place.
Keeping Your Patients Safe and Reassured
All the necessary social distancing precautions should be used for the safety of patients. In addition to everyone wearing masks, check patients for fever when entering your practice. Ask patients to show up for their appointments no more than 15 minutes ahead of time. You can even encourage them to wait in their cars and then call/text them when it’s their time to be seen.
Keep waiting rooms (and other rooms) well ventilated and keep a social distance of at least six feet. Consider using a strong, cleanable plastic shield plate to separate your front-office staff. You can also provide anti-viral hand sanitizer at your main entrance. Make sure your staff is fully educated on these practices too, so they can help maintain them day to day.
Some practices have turned to pre-registration and digital check-in tools to increase front-office efficiency, avoid check-in lines and limit face-to-face interaction. There are a variety of tools available to help with this, including Phreesia, Luma Health, etc.
Even if your practice is open, some patients may still feel apprehensive to come in. Help reassure their safety by communicating the extra precautions you’re taking. You can share this information in your marketing materials, social media, website, local news, etc. Communicating these safety measures will help prepare patients prior to their visits and avoid confusion.
Still Making the Most Out of Telehealth
Over the past few months, telehealth (or teledermatology in this case) has become a go-to for helping patients in many different medical fields. And even as you start seeing more patients in-office, telehealth is still a great way to help a large number of patients while maintaining a safer amount of in-office visits. Plus, many patients may prefer the convenience and flexibility virtual visits offer. And don’t forget to use the right coding.
Although many patients can be taken care of effectively through telehealth, some may be best served in person. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) has recommended delaying treatment for most non-melanoma skin cancers and cutaneous melanomas of any depth with negative margins after biopsy. However, depending on the situation, you (and affected patients) may not want to continue delaying treatment. Also, patients with new lesions may need a more detailed examination than a virtual appointment can offer. So, you may want to evaluate each case and weigh the health needs of the patient versus the risk of possible COVID-19 exposure.
Need help adjusting to this new reality of practicing? Our practice management experts are here to support you. Schedule a consultation today!